Money is their commitment

This past month in our office hour meeting we got to talking about asking for money. It’s an uncomfortable topic for many people. I’ll admit, it’s sometimes hard for me to ask for money from people if they are poor but needing help in science and math. I was in their shoes at one point, so I can feel their pain and desperation.

This empathy has given me time to hash out what Insanitek can and can’t do for free. It took me a while to work out a system that worked for us, too. Here’s some things I learnt along the way and tips you can use:

1.) Money is their commitment. 

For most people they will put forth effort into something if they spend money on it. After all, how many free things have you picked up, only to let them lie there? I have a bajillion PDFs that I’ve gotten for free just to let them stack up in my computer ─ forgotten and unread. That’s not useful.

Charge them something, even if it’s only a small amount, and they are more likely to use and learn from your work. You can’t serve people without them actually taking action and improving what they asked for, so charge at least a small amount.

2.) Have some Pay What You Want items. 

Pay What You Want (PWYW) is a great way to alleviate some of the stress for low-income people. I recommend that you take any high-end product or service you have and create a downloadable PDF that you can make PWYW. It puts more on the prospective client so they can get ahead in life using your services, but it fits within their budget.

Insanitek currently does this with a range of educational tools. We have a few Flash Math worksheets that walk students through a math concept, followed by couple of practice worksheets and the answer key. It’s a complete set to how we would teach it if we were standing in front of them, but since they lead themselves we can give it to them for a nominal fee without worry.

3.) Package the deal. 

There is more than one way to offer package. Certain packages might offer a discount for a commitment. For example, Insanitek offers package deals for tutoring. If a client commits to paying for all of a semester at a time, they can get a discount.

The other way of doing a package is by a set of services/products. For example, say you not only do the field work, but you run the samples and put together documents and slides for the client. Take a look at the time you take to do things, the value of the service, and charge accordingly. And if the client doesn’t want you to put together a slide deck or other little things that could help them, then you can negotiate a reduced cost.

4.) Have multiple tiers of the same type of offering. 

Not every customer is at the same place in their journey. One of the tips I learnt from Shari Alexander’s Persuasive Profits class is to think of a customer’s journey in terms of a staircase.

The staircase perspective used at the right is about right. There are a lot of people who have low awareness of what you are doing, and there are few who seek mastery or your services. But that means you create different things for each of the group’s needs.

When you do this you not only have a brilliant marketing system that means the customer where they are, but you also have a way to price things reasonably for how much both parties are committed to the projects.

5.) Offer a certain amount of charity hours per month. 

One of the things I do occasionally is offer free services to the community. I head to the library with a placard that simply reads “Free Science Tutoring” and wait. I was surprised at how well it took off, so I try to do one evening a month at a library in the low-income part of the city.

If you offer a research service, you could probably do a certain amount of samples for free or even informational sessions as charity work. Really, you just have to use your imagination on ways that you can give back to your community.

As you can see, there are several ways you can structure your business to be both profitable and charitable. It takes time to create and deliver, but being able to serve people where they are while having the confidence to charge for your services is well worth it.